Monday, February 13, 2017

Book Review: The Parables of Jesus

The Parables of Jesus. James Montgomery Boice. 1983/2016. Moody. 232 pages. [Source: Review copy]

In Parables of Jesus, James Montgomery Boice examines parables of the kingdom, parables of salvation, parables of wisdom and folly, parables of the Christian life, and parables of judgment. Each section has four to five chapters. (Some chapters cover more than one parable.) I think you'll agree that this is a thorough representation of the parables Jesus taught!

Parables of the Kingdom: Matthew 13:1-23; Matthew 13:24-43; Matthew 13:44-46; Matthew 13:47-52
Parables of Salvation: Luke 15:1-32; Matthew 20:1-16; Matthew 22:1-14; Luke 13:22-30; Luke 18:9-14
Parables of Wisdom and Folly: Matthew 25:1-13; Luke 12:13-21; Luke 16:1-9; Luke 6:46-49
Parables of the Christian Life: Matthew 21:28-32; Luke 8:16-18; Luke 11:33-36; Luke 10:25-37; Luke 11:5-13; Luke 18:1-8; Luke 7:36-50
Parables of Judgment: Matthew 18:21-35; Matthew 21:33-46; Matthew 25:14-46; Luke 16:19-31

This was my first time finishing a book by James Montgomery Boice. (I've started several in the past but never finished.) I ended up loving this one, and loving Boice's insight and style. It was thought-provoking. It was straight-forward. It was WONDERFUL. So much to learn! Definitely one worth rereading again and again!

How Boice defines a parable, "A parable is a story taken from real life (or a real-life situation) from which a moral or spiritual truth is drawn."

Favorite quotes:

  • What is it that makes the human heart hard? There can be only one answer: sin. Sin hardens the heart, and the heart that is hardened sins even more.
  • Virtually all of God’s attributes—whether sovereignty, holiness, omniscience, immutability, or even the divine love—are offensive to the natural man, if properly understood. So rather than repent of sin and turn for mercy to a God who is altogether sovereign, holy, knowing, and unchangeable, men and women suppress what knowledge they have and refuse to seek out that additional knowledge that could be the salvation of their souls. 
  • Is your heart an open heart? Are you receptive to God’s truth? Do you allow it to settle down into your life and thinking so that it turns you from sin, directs your faith to Jesus, and produces the Holy Spirit’s fruit? You may say, “I’m afraid not. I wish my heart was like that, but I’m afraid it is hard or shallow or strangled by this world’s goods. What can I do?” The answer is that you can do nothing, any more than soil can change its nature. But although you can do nothing, there is one who can—the divine Gardener. He can break up the hard ground, uproot the rocks, and remove the thorns. That is your hope—not you, but the Gardener. 
  • People are not saved by Jesus in groups. They are saved one by one as by the grace of God they recognize their need and come to Jesus in simple faith that He is who He claimed to be (the Son of God) and that He did what He claimed He would do (provide for our salvation through His death on our behalf ) The man in the field did not allow someone else to buy the treasure in hopes that he might share in it. The merchant did not form a cooperative to acquire the pearl of great price. Each made the purchase individually.
  • You are not called to poverty in Christ but to the greatest of spiritual wealth. You are not called to disappointment but to fulfillment. You are not called to sorrow but to joy. How could it be otherwise when the treasure is the only Son of God? How can the outcome be bad when it means salvation?
  • You are valuable to God even in your lost condition. You may be worthless in your own sight because you can only see what you have made of yourself, but you should learn that you are valuable to God because (unlike yourself ) He is able to see what you were created to be and what He can yet make of you. 
  • Each Christian has been sought and found by God, who always finds what He seeks. So let no one despair. No matter how great your sins may be, this is the day of grace. 
  • We are never so like God as when we rejoice at the salvation of sinners. We are never so like Satan as when we despise those who are thus converted and think ourselves superior to them. 
  • The time for repentance is not endless. But there is time for repentance now, while the door is open. Today anyone may enter and be saved. To enter is not hard; there is no complicated course to follow. If Jesus had compared Himself to a wall, we would have to climb over, and it might be hard work. If He had compared Himself to a long, dark passageway, we would have to feel our way along it, and some might be afraid to try. But Jesus said He was a door, and a door can be entered easily and instantly. But it must be entered. There is no way of getting around that.
  •  Jesus may be just another religious teacher. If so, His teachings can be used or not, as they prove helpful or unhelpful. But if He is more than a religious teacher, if He is God come in human flesh, as He claimed, then His teachings demand more than just a casual perusal. They demand belief and obedience. I am in trouble here because I have not believed in Him or obeyed Him. 4. If Jesus is not God, then His death and His teachings about its meaning are unimportant, though they were obviously important to Him. But if He is God, then His death is of the utmost importance. He taught—and He must be believed if He is God—that no one will ever be saved who does not believe that He died in his place to satisfy the just wrath of God against the sinner. That means that if I have not believed in Jesus as my Savior, I am doomed to suffer for my own sins when I eventually appear before God to give an accounting of all I have done or failed to do. 
  • You cannot have sin and Jesus, too. Sin will keep you from Him. But if you want the light and will turn to it, you will find that He is already shining and that God is already at work to save you through the gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 

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